Social Networking in Academic Research

In the article, “Twitter and Blogs are Not Just Add-ons to Academic Research”, Tim Hitchcock argues that academic progress requires collective participation through the use of social networking.  As a Graduate Research Assistant, I believe the author may have a point that publishing research has become a way of demonstrating status associated with academic success rather than a way of improving the current body of knowledge.  A sizeable amount of published work I’ve read while conducting literature reviews seem to repeat the work and findings of previous authors without a unique contribution.

I don’t agree that openly sharing research in the cyber world is safe in all fields of research.  For example, in my studies, my research into highway safety requires analysis of data that if exposed to the public could result in lawsuits that may harm funding agencies.  Secondly, I agree and disagree with the idea of using blogging as a way of improving academic writing.  Ideally, I believe exposing students to public debate teaches them the importance of finding confidence in what they believe while also shaping their ability to compose their ideas professionally.  However, while this exposure improves their writing ability, it may consequently harm their job prospects.  What they share publicly remains permanently on the internet for the whole world to easily find and review.  Future employers may find these posts and associate them (the writing style) with the students’ level of competency.  If we want to encourage student participation in the academic community, there needs to be safe guards protecting them from potential inaccurate judgements that future employers associate from the their level of writing.